Guyanese can rest assured: Venezuela’s border claims baseless – VP Jagdeo affirms

−Venezuelan government’s referendum seen as diversionary tactic

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, has described claims by Venezuela on Guyana’s territory, as well as that country’s attempts to invalidate the 1899 Arbitral Award as ‘bogus and invalid’.

Addressing a large gathering in Anna Regina, Region Two on Sunday, the vice president assured that the government and the opposition remain united in their resolve that the 1899 Arbitral Award is the ‘full, final and perfect’ settlement of the matter.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the gathering

The vice president reaffirmed the government’s belief that Guyana has a strong case that will lead to the upholding of the Arbitral Award.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has twice ruled against Venezuela, affirming that it has jurisdiction to hear the case.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the gathering on Sunday in Anna Regina

“We believe that this referendum came about because of the weakness of their case, Venezuela twice sought to make a case that the ICJ did not have any jurisdiction to rule on this matter. Two times, the ICJ said they had the jurisdiction almost unilaterally. So today, they now have to present their case, but what are you going to present, if you have a weak case? They have no case absolutely to present before the ICJ,” Dr Jagdeo asserted.

Venezuela’s rejection of the Arbitral Award is hinged on a posthumous memorandum purportedly written by a junior member of Venezuela’s legal team at the 1899 arbitration, Severo Mallet-Provost, which claimed that there was corruption in the arbitration process, an allegation that has not been proven.

Sections of the gathering on Sunday in Anna Regina

The VP also pointed out that with Venezuela’s general elections on the horizon, the Venezuelan government may be using this referendum as a political ploy to gain traction. He said the Venezuelan government is clutching at straws to garner economic and political leverage, in light of the dire state of the country’s economy.

“I believe the Venezuela government is faced with elections soon, and they have a hard time mobilising people to vote for the ruling party. So, they are using this referendum as a distraction from their internal problems. People have fled hunger and hardship in Venezuela. The government there cannot campaign with the same sort of vigour they’ve been campaigning with this referendum,” he said.

Sections of the gathering on Sunday in Anna Regina

While reiterating government’s remains commitment to maintaining a zone of peace, Dr. Jagdeo said greater defence cooperation will be explored with several countries, ensuring that no efforts are spared to protect Guyana’s territorial integrity.

“This is a unifying issue for all of our people. And we will overcome this. This is just another hurdle on our way to prosperity. And you can rest assured that every single day this government is hard at work to ensure that we minimise these threats, address these threats, and continue to work for upliftment of our country,” he emphasised.

Sections of the gathering on Sunday in Anna Regina

He also addressed a plethora of concerns and misinformation surrounding the issue, including the treatment of Venezuelans in Guyana, and Guyana’s request for provisional measures, which is currently before the ICJ.

The Vice President was accompanied by Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Elisabeth Harper.

Sections of the gathering on Sunday in Anna Regina

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